Consider the Sparrows

Consider the Sparrows

So many come, Dad hides behind a blind
with birdshot and a rifle in the grain field.
They scatter, land, scatter, land. I hear them
chirping through the boom, watch their flight
ripple like cotton sheets lifted in the wind.

A sparrow’s egg on concrete – the yolk
seeping through the fracture – makes me stop
to look from broken shell to fretting maple
branches above for the mother who chirrups
in her nest, twitching, head tilted, eyes blinking.

This too shall pass, small sparrow. Tomorrow
I will walk beneath your bed just like today,
the ruined egg in smaller fragments, or vanished
and you will scavenge the earth, fly overhead,
the sky heavy with you and your flock,

who will not know me from any other beast
below. I will regard you as just another
house sparrow, aggressive attacker
who captures bluebirds in their nestboxes,
descends on golden fields of grain.

Gimme All Your Lovin’

Is there anything more moving than your child saying, “I love you too, Mom”? Is there? What could be better than saying goodnight and I love you and getting that reply? This is why we change diapers. This is why we cook meals and then make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when they don’t want ravioli. This is why we scold. This is why we discipline. This is why we snuggle. This is why we teach them how to be human. Oh, that blissful moment of reward! Thank you, Lord, for showing me what it must be like to be yelled at, screamed at, to receive the look of distaste and bitterness and anger and lack of understanding, only to be loved again, to receive in its turn some sense of appreciation or adoration. I see, now. I see. I see how you keep giving, and giving, and giving, and sometimes it takes us days or weeks or months, even years, even a lifetime, to hear those words — I love you, too, Lord. Gratitude and thankfulness are not needed, sacrifice and payment shunned — just love me back. Love me. I just want your love, child.

Revision of Hoarding Any Memory

Hoarding Any Memory
Come give me a smooch! – Richard Lingro, Sr.

You appear in a family picnic clip
fifty pounds heavier than I remember
and bearded. Come give me a smooch!
that scruffy kiss and heavy hug.

Lawn mower tractor pulls, greasy rags,
and polka music play, profound
around the fuzzy photos, figures distorted,
shorter, thinner, younger years away,

driving in a silver Grand Marquis. I hear
oldies music, feel stale, air-conditioned cold
pumped into the back of an old police car,
the grey upholstered seat where I sit

with permanently locked doors,
windows I can’t roll down.
We are visiting great-grandmother
at her grave where your dust will rest

next to your mother. What felt like hours
is only thirty minutes – did you know
we were so close? We planted flowers,
or maybe we poked a plastic wreath

above her headstone, or maybe
there was no leaving behind,
only standing, staring, shifting feet.
My husband yells at our daughter

and I’m embarrassed to have thought of you.
But mostly, I keep sitting by your bed, alone,
caressing your head, whispering prayers,
holding your hand as you breathe in,

and breathe out, and breathe in…
and I breathe in, and in, and in, breathe…
and then I’ve breathed you out,
an immense whoosh like the smooch goodbye

after the car door is opened, windows down,
off to the great lawn mower tractor pull in the sky.

Baked Apple, Green Ogres, and Snuggles

My word it’s been a week already. I am pretty run down tonight after a busy day at work and frustrating financial mishaps. I hate money. I really do. All of its finiteness, especially. But in the end, note the lilies in the field and the sparrows in the air – and we’re worth much more than sparrows, so I’m told. 😉

We watched Shrek 2, again, tonight. I felt bad, to some degree, turning on the movie after dinner because I am rather certain it was on all morning, too, but it was cold in the living room (still is), and Lydia’s energy levels were really high. I just couldn’t come up with anything creative, energy-letting, and contained within the walls of our home to do on a rainy Friday night. I am really glad I did though – I don’t think I’ve sat for an hour and a half with my children, ever. Elvis just melts into you – his little body snuggles up and he holds onto your arm or hand with his hands and rests. Lydia will sit for a minute or two and then she stands and then sits and then stands and then sits and then stands. And then jumps off of the couch, three times before you say ENOUGH! I’ll turn it off! And then she sits again. There was a good 15 minute period though when they were completely sucked in by the ogres. It was heaven.

I “baked” an apple tonight with cinnamon and brown sugar in the microwave. It was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever made baked apples before – especially not the traditional in-the-oven way – but this turned out magnificent in 2 minutes vs. the recipe I found which called for an hour in the oven. What?! Are you serious?!

Ack! I just remembered that the Office was on last night. Time to go watch And I’m sure there was something entertaining on the Thursday edition of SNL…

This is why I love Friday nights. The only noise in the house is the ticking of the clock, the sighing of the dog, the passing of cars, and the clicking of the keyboard. Just. Me. And Tex. Who sighs.

Daily Bread

Daily Bread
Poetry ought to have a mother as well as a father.

The men are smoking Winstons, wearing work boots,
worn denim, deep calluses, their flannelled backs to the fire.
They are riding away on motorcycles, pulling up

in trucks – semis blare and brake – there they are
digging trenches, moving mountains, there again
heaving haybales, picking apples, building scarecrows.

In their shadows, we are slicing Granny Smiths,
baking apple crisp, sorting whites from dirt-caked blue
jeans, sweeping mud-crusted tread marks

out from under the rug. We kneel by porcelain
tubs and sinks, soak cornsilk blondes in Johnson’s soap,
kneel to tie a toddler’s shoes, kneel to wash

a Savior’s feet. Someone must prepare the table –
sweet rolls wait for butter, sweet corn waits for pepper.
A harvest meal by candlelight, we whisper

with each other, laugh, clink glasses and drink,
dishpan and callused fingers clasped.
Without this waltz – the way we circumnavigate –

Sun pulls earth pulls moon pulls earth pulls us –
there is only exhaust and straw, hard work and dust.


Lately, I have had the great joy of spending all day with my kids on the weekends. At least it feels like that – maybe it hasn’t been that way for long, but I LOVE this exhaustion from a day well spent. We squeezed out every ounce of good times from each available minute today, and my feet have much to say in response. It was good.

Saturdays are Pancake Days — occasionally Sundays are also Pancake Days — which sets the day into gear. Today, after pancakes, we putzed around the house for a little while and then went to the grocery store for apple cider and a few additional odds and ends. Then we swung through a few garage sales, first by car and then by foot (BIG mistake – long walk – Elvis fell asleep in his race car and Lydia tired out 1/4 of the way back to the house, but everyone slept well this afternoon!), and then back to the house for a lunch of leftovers. Elvis had a hard time falling asleep but once he did, he slept until a little after 3. Lydia went down at 1 and slept until 3:30. She was pooped.

After the kids fell asleep this afternoon, I took a shower since that didn’t really happen this morning, and then I made something I am dying to taste – Pumpkin Streudel Squares. mmmm they sure look and smell yummy. They are in the fridge right now, and I’m debating, first, why I made them, and second, when I’m going to eat them. There was an initial motivation behind baking these that has since passed. I don’t remember what it was. I’ll probably save them for small group tomorrow night.

Once the kiddies woke up, we had a snack and lounged around a few minutes and then went to feed/terrorize Lisa’s cats. Mission accomplished, we ran through the ATM at the bank to deposit a check and then drove the few minutes’ ride out to our friends’ farm for a fall festival (ffffff). It was… fun! 🙂 We had a blast, to be completely honest — playing with other kids, meeting more great people and finding a kindred writer spirit, carving a pumpkin, eating hot dogs, taking a hay ride — it was a grand affair. We are all thoroughly exhausted, I think. Here’s hoping the kids sleep in (yeah right).

The weather is amazing this weekend, too. It is so nice to be outside – I feel as if it is a necessity to get outdoors as much as possible before the days get shorter and the temperatures drop even more. The kids (and I) love to be outside and take walks, and I will miss it a lot when the snow starts to fall. I get a cold nose and dry hands just thinking about the freeze.

I think tonight is the perfect night to veg out in front of a good, predictable movie I’ve seen a hundred times. And then fall asleep on the couch, probably.

Cover Hunting

I have been trying to pull together the pieces that are necessary to go forward with the chapbook and one of those is the cover. The title I have chosen is “Acquiesce.” I’ve flipped through my photo albums here and thought about picking the image of me jumping off the bungee jumping platform in New Zealand… but it is so…. me centered. This collection isn’t really about me. If anything it is about getting me out of the way. So, I decided if there was one image from the book or one poem that I felt would capture that feeling of letting go, giving in to a higher power, driftwood is it.

I have paged through hundreds of images of driftwood (thank you, google image). Pages and pages of chunks of wood. And I keep coming back to the image I snagged from CoffeeWaffle that I’ve used as a header here. It is captivating, complex, tangled – a mess of limbs. It’s great. And there are so many others I’ve paged through on his site hunting for the shot – they are fabulous, if you have a chance to check it out. Anyway, I emailed Murray about the images on his site, and in the meantime have been paging through some more, searching his site for “driftwood”, when I came across this:

“Every time I look at this shot driftwood on Rabbit Island Beach, I can’t figure out how these two logs ‘grew’ like this.” — Murray, in reference to the header graphic above. I just love when this sort of thing happens – the poem, Driftwood, in my chapbook is about exactly this – the melding and merging of wood, people, God, whatever – so that you cannot tell where one begins and the other ends. So, I think that’s it – that’s going to be the cover. Now we’ll see what the publisher thinks 😉

It’s been a great week around here. Things are going well with work, Brandon and I have had a good week at home with the kids, this great opportunity with poetry has made my year, and I am just feeling blessed. Blessed blessed blessed. I have been trying to keep from getting an inflated ego about this book, because every time I look at the poems in it, I can identify what God was doing through the writing of it – I can see his hand moving the poem in the direction of truth rather than in the direction of what I thought was going on. I can see how he spoke into those poems. They are not about me. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the feeling of glory – this feeling that I’VE accomplished something now – look at me! look at me! Not good. I want to only be a vessel carrying the goods and I have to try hard to keep that in front. I’m just a rusty old ship, man. But I’ve got the GOODS.

Monday Recap

I am still bubbling over a bit about this whole chapbook thing. Chapbooks, for those who aren’t as bookish and nerdy as me, are kind of like mini-books or half the typical poetry manuscript. They generally consist of 15-25 pages of poems by one author. They are printed in limited edition print runs and usually centered around a particular theme. Mine is titled, Acquiesce and has poems wrapped around the idea of accepting loss, giving in to God’s will, and letting go. I’m still a bit taken aback that it happened just like that… but it did!

Besides the sudden and random onslaught of “oh yeah! I’m published! Eep!”, this weekend was a mixed bag. I had a great time with the kids, Bible study was great, church was great, hanging out with a bunch of college students was a blast, and I painted the living room red, again, while listening to the presidential nominees debate. Good times.

There were some less pleasant moments, but all in all, a good weekend.

I am debating whether to go database some more or just work on poetry. There are two days until the boss-man gets back in the office and then we can start going over the “Stuff for Steve” folder. At that point, I imagine my writing taking a backseat, or perhaps the trunk, to all of the business-related work I have coming up. And that’s a good thing. I have a lot of plans and ideas I want to start executing for the program, but I haven’t been able to do any of it because he’s out of the office so much. How do I sign up for his job?


I just got off the phone with the editor at Finishing Line Press, and they are going to publish my chapbook! I didn’t really even know I had enough material for a chapbook and voila! here it is. I am still shocked and flattered and honored and amazed. Can I elaborate on how I’m feeling any more than that?